Wednesday 2 October 2013

Of Bruce Elgort , (very small) Alien Abduction, OpenNTF and changing times.

The story of Bruce.

So today is one of those rare moments of transition when something moves from one era to another. Specifically Mr Bruce Elgort is after an illustrious career at the helm of OpenNTF is standing down as chairperson ... or should that be "is standing up from the chair" because if he doesn't stand up then they will need another chair .. anyway I digress.

I first met Bruce in 2007 when we were both abducted by  aliens easily identifiable by the fact they are  physically incapable of saying the words "Three" and "Column".These aliens plied us with drink arranged bus tours gave us a bag full of  "things" (thankfully there were no USB devices that could have been used for "probing") and held captive in a hotel in Dublin for several days. It was noted that aliens in question had assimilated themselves into the geek community by pretending to be Paul Mooney and Eileen Fitzgerald. Like white mice in a maze we were subjected to a series of tests one of which was to stand in front of a room full of other abductees and talk for an hour about something interesting and educational, whilst this test was going on our alien overloads hovered in the background with clipboards and waved signs that told us what would happen to kittens if we didn't stop talking.

I remember that afternoon as if it were 6 years ago, there I was along with 50 or 60 other abductees, tired and over emotional herded into a large room clutching a bag of "stuff" to hear all about "Free Stuff" and "OpenNTF" in particular from the triumvirate of Pettitt, Schumann and Elgort. We to a geek left that session buzzing with apps, code and a desire to find an Internet connection and start downloading and in my case uploading stuff to OpenNTF. But this was 2007 and we were in Dublin, the Internet had not been invented, indeed inside toilets and wire coat hangers were still some years in the Ireland's future. So there nothing to do other than drink Guinness and had to amuse ourselves by taking notes with a thing called "A PEN" on a device called "PAPER" - oh how the world has changed. I still have the Blackberry Notepad with the phrases "Elgort" - "Rather Bald" - and "Ben Poole  is not a Wiki- Mark Myers is a Wiki" and  "OpenNTF" the latter being underlined in 3 colours with 6 exclamation marks

Bruce has had many adventures since, when you have a hour to spare buy me a pint and ask me how Bruce rescued the party of nuns from the pirates using nothing but a RESTful API, a goat, some moisturiser and a funky paradiddle.

Bruce old bean you will be a very hard act to follow! So from this one example of someone you helped get "really" going in the geek profession - thank you for your indefatigable energy and enthusiasm .. it really did and does help folk like me get off their arses and start learning!

PS. Oh and thank you for having the amazingly good taste to marry the ever lovely Gayle ;-)

Thursday 5 September 2013

OK who turned out the lights and where is the tuna?

... and here I sit for the first time in 3 days alone with my thoughts outside Brighton railway station in glorious Autumn sunshine. ICON13 is over and real life drifts around me in ill advised shorts, double entendre tee-shirts and the occasional "kiss me quick" hat. Sitting on the low wall it occurs to me that I have been told by many people that we are afforded moments of clarity when all become clear and this wibbly wobbly continuum we call home makes perfect sense - sadly this is most definitely not one of those moments.

This post is not a plea to anyone to do anything or am getting all cross and pointing the finger and attributing blame it is simply the passing observations of a willing surfer dude who has enjoyed riding the wave of geek enthusiasm that Kitty and Warren and the rest of the team have provided year on year for the last 7 years.

I have been honoured to be a small and sometimes profane cog in the Lego Technic engine Kitty and Warren have crafted these 7 years and more out of the raw materials of knowledge, dedication, enthusiasm, the deadly cat herding skills of a ninja manager and when all else fails Kitty's tablet ... like all things I have found that echo with that indefinable "something" that sets apart the really great from the mundane I did not want it to end. .... but thing do end tis the nature of things and I (indeed we) need to look to the future and ensure that Kitty's and Warren's legacy in building a conference that has during its span changed from a simple crowd of geeks into a living breathing community of colleagues and indeed lots and lots of firm friends! As I sip my extra large 4 shot mocha I wonder what will come next but tis too early to speculate -

Hey ho *sigh* as a "helper" and I use the word helper advisably, I shall miss the craic of being in a team with a purpose and a pretty good and very satisfying purpose at that and with my next sip i remember that like 100's of others I was an attendee first. Dare I say it the single more important and yes vital ingredient for UKLUG, ILUG and ICON were the attendees. I can still vividly remember the day when I wandered from a Rob McDonagh/Julian Robichaux hour of Web Agent magic into a hour of  Bill Buchan at his very best. I was stunned, I was invigorated, I was inspired, I went home buzzing with a head full of ideas that went into the admin/dev teams I was working with and promptly led us in new directions that lead to our end users getting faster and better service from the company's investment in Domino.

Those 7 years of GB LUGS did for this one attendee much much much more that just be 3 days away from the office with the chance of a few pens and memory sticks. Although I have no actual metrics to back this up I am as sure as I can be that the LUGs were the driving force that took me to the next levels year on year enabling me to make a difference in the other 362 days of my professional life and that is just so fecking awesome!. I am sure I am not alone in that particular feeling and the feeling of loss is palpable.

I am at heart an old slightly unkempt hippy and my character was formed in that era of "vibes" and aqs an attendee, speaker and putterupper/takerdowner of things at LUGs the vibe was good. Indeed if truth be told it was a top drawer, primo, organic, free range excellent vibe (Young readers please note I did resist putting "Dude" at the end of that sentence as I completed the 12 step patchouli oil addiction program in 1979 and I have no wish to go through THAT again). The vibe came from the speakers who spoke because they knew their stuff and wanted to share it just because they could.  The sponsors who stumped up the cash to run the event recognised the LUG Vibe and never pushed the commercial side to hard I think because they saw the value of talking to customers and potential customers both at the booths and then later in the bar in a more convivial friendly atmosphere.

I think the LUGs are the "Farmers Market" of the community. The LUGs are the place you go to get the "special" stuff you cannot get in the high street. Don't get me wrong there is a place for the high street with the big shops we will always need them - BUT - there is a synergy between the formal and informal events that keep things fresh, vibrant and enthused.

I would love to go Connect, sadly it is unlikely I ever will but as a distant (and envious) observer the somewhat locked down Disneyfied formality and the sheer size of the endeavour makes me wonder if I would enjoy it as I do the LUGs ... very probably ... but in a very different way. I suppose what I am trying to say is the LUGs were "ours" and I have an affinity for what I is mine and I am saddened to have lost that and I think that the community will be much much less for it if a "postLUG" event does not fill the vacuum.

So my coffee is nearly done, and in 10 minutes I shall board my train and close the door on one part of my life that has been filled with education, laughter, amazement, friendship and the very best of company - it is really quite sad.

So here I sit like Schrodinger's cat in a dark box wondering where the nice Physics Geeks have gone and who ate all the tuna. - I wonder what I will find when the box is opened?

Tuesday 27 August 2013

All change has at it's heart a moment of melancholy

.... and today more than most.

For Warren Elsmore announced that ICON formerly known as UKLUGi s bowing out after 8 years of state of the art conferencing.

The world it seems changes, moves on and re-aligns it's priorities in new and interesting ways yet these changes are always tinged with a moistness of eye and a faint longing to be returned to "the good old days" a moment of Kleenex requirement if you will.

I am honoured to have helped with UKLUG and ILUG in a small way for several years and it is without hesitation that I am marking it's demise with a standing all be it virtual round of applause, cheering, whistling and throwing my cap in the air. For not to beat around the bush the work that Kitty and Warren and the other team members put in to making each and every UKLUG event a success is considerable ... very very considerable and this hard work was echoed at BLUG. MWLUG, AUSLUG and every other LUG around the world.

It is a matter of continuing amazement to me that a few people that care can make a substantial change, Theo at BLUG, Warren and Kitty at UKLUG and Paul and Eileen at ILUG and all the other people involved with LUGs are fired up to the point they are willing to give of their time and themselves and take that quite substantial risk .. a risk taken to make a difference.

Warren and Kitty's hard work over the years has left behind an enormous crowd of people who left each and every event better than when they arrived. They left with new skills ,they left better equipped to deal with the problems they face, they left with address books bulging  with contacts of both BP sponsors and fellow attendees and most valuable of all they left inspired .... and that is one hell of a most awesome wonderful thing to have achieved! So to the other team members, speakers, sponsors, partners, attendees and most of all Warren an Kitty I salute you.


Tuesday 29 January 2013

Who can say where the road goes, where the day goes? Only time....

Although I am not over in Orlando at Connect 13 this year the distance from my friends is all the more difficult with the news that one of the "Geek Bikers" , Kenneth Kjarbye from Denmark, had a fatal accident on the Annual Hog Ride.

Stuck in Ireland I have only my words to reach out to Kenneth's family and my friends who are at this time in a dark place they were not expecting to be not even in their worst nightmares .. <sigh> but there are no words I can think of that really do help, there are no words that wrap those in pain in the warmth of a hug, there are no words the equal of shared tears, there are no words that stop the birds of sorrow from flying over the heads of Kenneth's family and my friends.

It is sufficient to say that I and the 100's if not 1000's of community members near and far are thinking of all those affected directly and indirectly by Kenneth's tragic and untimely death. I like many others will raise a glass in the coming days and remember Kenneth fondly. For me he will be remembered as one of the "Vikings" from the LUGs and my toast will be - here is to Kenneth, fellow geek and fellow biker - good man yourself!

A sad day ... a sad day indeed.

Thursday 3 January 2013

Offical start of the Domino Charity Marathon Dander For Cash 2013

The Dander Route
A while back I mentioned that there would be a reprise of the Domino Dander for Cash this coming year.

It takes me great pleasure to announce that this year's Dander will be longer bigger and more challenging than the two that have preceeded it.

As of today it is offical, a spreadsheet has been created and accomodation is being looked at and foot care product sales have gone through the roof in certain places around the UK and USA

When I say "we" these are the brave souls that will attempt to walk the 80 miles of  "The Great Glen" in Scotland in kilts in May.

Eileen Fitzgerald, Tony Holder, Bill Buchan, Carl Tyler (and Niece) are definites and Julian Woodward may possibly join us. Frank Doherty has offered to do some of the logistics if needed. We are starting on the west side of Scotland and walking to the East from Fortwilliam in the south west up along the Caladonial Canal, along the full length of Lough Ness and then down to the city of Inverness on the East Coast.

80 miles split in 4 days of approximately 20 miles each day.

Well it needs to be a challenge otherwise you folks out there won't give us lots of your hard earned cash for the charity we are doing this for. To be blunt 80miles in 4 days is MORE than enough of a challenge for myself! So the walkers now have 20 weeks to get into shape, trim the kilts and get "fettled" as they say in Norn Iron for the task ahead.

Since we are walking in Scotland we though a local Scottish charity would be a good idea and although the actual charity is not finialised we have sort of agreed that given that Bill Buchan's village charity raft race is on the week-end we finish we will probably support the larger of the charities they help - it looks likely that the very excellent and deserving Childrens Hospice Association Scotland will be the one we will be raising monies for - watch this space for details.

Two years ago when all the cash was tallied up we raised over £3000.00 that was for 26 miles in Kilts, this time it is a good deal further AND "Big Firm Tony" will be with us. THE WHOLE WAY!!!!!!!!! So when the time comes I will be expecting you to be generous ;-) and I would think that we should be able to manage £4000.00 this year if we try extra hard.

There will hopefully be a dedicated blog on the way shortly where you can follow the preparations for the Dander and the Dander itself. I am also designing a tee-shirt for the walkers. Both the blog and tee-shirt will have spaces for any ISVs or  BPs out there that would like (for a small charitable donation) to have their logos emblasioned on blog and the manly and womanly chests of the participants.

So if you are a BP and would like to have your company associated with this kilted charitable community challenge, drop me an email and I will very gladly take any (or all) of your money :-D and do my best to plug the life out of your company name out there on the internet!

If any of the folks reading this want to join us for the walk but can't do the whole walk, feel free to come and join in for one or part of any of the days we are walking, the more the merrier again just drop me an email. and I will send you details of where we will be on what day.

There is also likely to be a big slap up meal in Inverness on the Friday to which any local Domino or indeed any geeky folks that might be about are more than welcome to come and buy us drink- again more details later.

So watch the new feeds for more details about blogs and how BPs and inviduals can help us reach our target for this year.

Spread the News  ..


03/Jan/2013 ** Update ** Chris Coates has just confirmed he has joined the Danders!!
03/Jan/2013 ** Updaye ** Julian Woodward has moved from "Possibly" to "Almost definitely"

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